The History of I-Plan
In the Summer of 2000, Alan Cheesbrough was at a crossroads.
A potential client, International Paper in the United States, needed an effective enterprise level planning solution. However, after many years of delivering software implementations at many of the world’s biggest brands including Nestlé, Kellogg’s cereal, Guiness, Rexam and Sappi; Alan knew that large vendor software solutions were often costly, inflexible and ineffective.
Thirteen years later, Shaun Snapp, Managing Editor of SCM Focus and one of the most influential voices in the field of Supply Chain Management Software, came to the same conclusion. “My implementation experience,” he wrote, “has taught me that software vendor size does not lead to either higher quality software or higher implementation success, and that most of the best applications and best values reside with the smaller software vendors.”
On a site visit to International Paper in Savannah, Georgia, Alan found they were running a network of paper mills across North and South America supplying 50 internal converting plants and an external market across the Americas and Europe. The Americas had a massive problem with production planning and inventory management across such a large network of plants.
They were trying to implement a leading supply chain management solution and were not succeeding.
Alan felt that no software product vendor had the capability of solving the problems faced by International Paper, so he decided to go it alone. Against both the advice of every software developer he spoke to and the received wisdom of the time, Alan decided to develop the first web-based collaborative tool to support the demand forecasting and inventory replenishment process. He formed a company, Trading Science to develop the vision for International Paper into a generic product. International Paper immediately placed an order for almost $1 million for the development of the tool.
With no infrastructure to support him, Alan tried to secure software development support from various UK based companies but none of them had the skills or vision needed to deliver such a pioneering web-based solution.
Undeterred, Alan, now with the help of two shareholders, was introduced to a Ukrainian software development company who had good references in advanced software development techniques. After conducting due diligence, Trading Science bought a share in the company and a new solution for Collaborative Planning, Forecasting and Replenishment was born.
The product was named I-Plan, meaning Internet Planning, and the solution was delivered successfully to International Paper. Because of the company vision, product flexibility and the agility of a smaller software vendor, I-Plan rapidly gained traction in the market. Today it is the most advanced web solution in Integrated Business Planning supported by a team dedicated to the original vision for the company.
Lora Cecere, Founder and CEO of Supply Chain Insights and former Gartner Analyst, wrote about Gartner’s large vendor bias: “If you follow the Magic Quadrant Methodology, you have a strong likelihood to buy the wrong software product…I would give this a 95% probability”.
Alan agrees: “I’ll never grow Trading Science beyond the point where we can’t be agile and responsive. I want the company to be known for successful implementations, for making a positive difference and for being honest. It really is as simple as that”.
Test I-Plan with I-Plan Discovery
“There is a belief…that the supply chain planning solutions from ERP providers are adequate. For most they are not (and) the answer lies in testing”.
(Lora Cecere, Founder and CEO of Supply Chain Insights and former Gartner Analyst)
I-Plan Discovery allows you to test I-Plan before you buy. Please fill in the form below and we’ll demonstrate how I-Plan solves all the critical supply chain problems, simply and effectively.